Thursday, January 26, 2017

Go Falcons! An Unbiased Bird Analysis

Peregrine Falcon aka. Peregine aka. Duck Hawk (archaic)
Point Lobos State Natural Preserve, Carmel-By-The-Sea, California, USA
October 2016
Member of the Falcon Family
§An Eyrie of Falcons§
★Fastest Animal on Earth, Clocked in at 242mph in a Swoop Are You Freaking Kidding Me
★The World's Most Widespread Raptor, Can Be Found in Every Non-Ice-Covered Land Mass Except New Zealand Holy Moly
★Nation Bird of the United Arab Emirates
★Official Bird of Chicago
~true bird fact~ One of the species most impacted by the use of the pesticide DDT, in 1975 there were only about 300 pairs left alive in the USA. He was on the endangered species list from 1970 til 1999, and the population remains strong today. Recovery efforts were not just aided by the elimination of our use of these pesticides, but also by centuries of falcon-handling knowledge from falconers who had long trained these birds for hunting and sports. Dang what a cool bird.

I hear there's some kinda football game coming up in which some Falcons will take on the New England Patriots, so I thought I might include some football related stats to help you figure out which team to root for on Superbowl Sunday. For the purposes of this calculation I assume the mascot of the New England Patriots is a human man of a patriotic nature. You could make a case that it's a Bald Eagle, but don't be silly, birds aren't patriotic, despite whatever meanings are attached to them.

Weight of a football: 15oz
Weight of the heaviest likely prey of a falcon: 38oz
Verdict: A falcon can easily lift a football and carry it above the heads of the football men. An average NFL football player weighs around 260lbs. It would take 109 falcons to carry an NFL player comfortably, but I bet they could do it with less if they really tried. This would be a truly terrifying spectacle.

Speed of the fastest linebacker: 18.68mph
Speed of a falcon chasing prey: 69mph
Verdict: The falcon would never be caught by a patriot, and would easily pursue him if he tried to escape. In fact the fastest football pass was 59mph, meaning the falcon could even intercept the ball mid-air.

Weight of a Falcon: ~3lbs
Force of a Falcon Strike: 145 Newtons
Force of an NFL Tackle: 7117 Newtons
Verdict: Well, a patriotic football man definitely hits hard, but we've already established there are over 100 falcons here, so I think there should be no problem

Prediction: Falcons win the SuperbOwl!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Ring-necked Pheasant

Ring-necked Pheasant aka. Common Pheasant aka. Pheasant
Wetlands Edge Park, American Canyon, California, USA
December 2016
Member of the Turkey, Grouse, and Partridge Family
§A Brace of Pheasant§
The State Bird of South Dakota

~true bird fact~ Like many other popular game birds, pheasants have unusually developed breast muscles (the 'white meat). What this meat is actually there for is to allow these predominantly ground-based bird to have short bursts of extremely quick flight. They can travel (briefly) almost straight up and reach nearly 40 miles per hour.

Loves to give and receive presents
Member of the 99 percent (a peasant)
Discontent when his time is misspent at a government event

Monday, January 16, 2017

Golden Eagle

Golden Eagle
Lake Berryessa, Napa, California, USA
September 2016
Member of the Kite, Eagle, and Hawk Family
§An Aerie of Eagles§
The National Bird of Albania, Austria, Germany, Kazakhstan, and Mexico (that's him on the flag). This also makes him the Most Common National Bird

~true bird fact- A truly, truly impressive bird to behold, they are the top aerial predator in almost all of their one million square kilometer range, which covers pretty much the whole northern hemisphere. They can go after prey as large as grey wolves or domestic farm animals.

Quick-witted and intimidating to verbally spar with
Bears a slight smile that betrays a high level of confidence
Doesn't get easily sucked in to conflict and pettiness
A major sports fan, this makes him much more relatable

Thursday, January 5, 2017

2016 Birding Year in Review: Egrets, we've had a few..

2016, what a year, huh? In some ways, we needed birds more than ever this year, and they came through. As is tradition here on bird blog, we're going to take today and look back at some of the best moments and most memorable moments in the last year. Interspersed will be some random pictures from this year that didn't really fit in anywhere else. Finally, we're gonna set some brand new birding resolutions.

Birding Highlights 2016

We blogged 48 times last year, including some really cool birds I was happy to add to my life list. Hawaiian birds were an obvious highlight, with the 'apapane being probably my favorite, as it was a now increasingly rare Hawaiian native bird. From there I focused on cool Southern California birds for a while, getting the very desirable California Condor, Black Skimmer, and Phainopepla. I was proud of myself for getting more frequent timely blogs out there. We had special blogs for valentine's day, the presidential election, and christmas, to name a few.

Some of my best photos this year, to my eye, were in my Florida birds entry (both the Cranes and the Great Blue Heron stand out to me) and Chestnut-backed Chickadee. My personal favorite entries were probably my beloved .gifs. I'm not sure if anyone likes them but me (they don't get particularly more traffic or anything), but I'm going to keep doing them darn it. Check out my Planet Earth II review, my Halloween crow gifs, or, again the Valentine's Day blog, which contains some of the things I've made this year that I'm proudest of. Oh, and this. The most popular blog this year was, perhaps unsurprisingly, Who's That Pokebird (and part 2). I successfully capitalized on a trend! Look, I'm learning media! I also think it's a pretty good and fun blog, so go read it maybe.


So last year I said I'd do some stuff. Let's see how I did. Did I get into more calendars and photo contests (Resolution 1)? Well, I entered a few, but didn't actually make it. This might be too ambitious of a goal, so I'm going to start with something smaller. I would say I kept up a good pace of social media interaction (R2) (for me, at least) and succeeded in birding more current-events related stuff (R3). And did I go to the Farrallons (R4)? Well, yes, I totally did. Unfortunately, I became violently ill 1/4 of the way through the 4 hour boat ride and got approximately 0.5 usable pictures (seen above). My wife swears there were amazing whales and birds, but I didn't see them. It was probably my biggest failure of the year, aside from preventing Donald Trump's election with my biting social commentary. So let's say I succeeded in approximately half of my resolutions. Not bad!

Here's what I'm going to focus on this year

1. Do more local birding. I want to focus on my own Beautiful Bay Area and highlight some locations around here that are some of my favorites for birds. I want to focus on locations more in general, actually, and I think it'll help me with the looming specter of running out of new birds.

2. Find more time for solo birding. My current methods generally involve combining birding with various trips and vacations, or with hiking around with friends or family. This is not the best arrangement for birding or my travel companions, since there's sometimes a tug between wanting to get a slightly better picture and trying not to slow our group's pace to a crawl. As such, I want to try to use some more of my time to go on walks dedicating more specifically to birding and take my time to get the best shots and the most illusive birds.

3. Learn more about my camera. Not sure how to do this, but I've gotta start somewhere. There are a lot of settings that I just don't know what to do with and maybe knowing how to toggle them would fix some of the (rare) issues I have with the camera. Currently my biggest frustrations come from shots that end up focusing on the background behind the bird (see #worstbirdpic for more on this), or from not being able to take a good picture of a white bird in full light under basically any circumstance.

4. See about getting some photos in a local business. This is my new 'get out there' goal. There are coffee shops and restaurants around here that seem to showcase local artists, and maybe I'm good enough for that. Won't know if I don't try. I've been inspired to try this by seeing a friend do a similar thing with his new photography hobby.

5. Keep getting those blogs out to you, the people. Isn't this the most important goal of all?

Happy new year, folks, see you next week.